Burning Issues

"Santa Rosa may ban new woodburning fireplaces.  Law would also require wood
stoves not EPA-approved to be removed when home is sold."
Subject: Fwd: fireplace ban & remodel requirement Date: Wed, 05 Dec 2001 17:28:41 -0800 From: Tom Phillips <tphillip@arb.ca.gov>
Organization: CARB/RD, Indoor Air Quality and Personal Exposure Assessment Program

FYI, as mentioned on the Cal EPA news page:

The committee's recommendations are attached, and will be considered early next

Los Gatos, Petaluma, Palo Alto, San Jose, and Morgan
Hill, and cities in Contra Costa and San Mateo counties have already adopted a
version of the Air District's model ordinance as of last January
(http://www.baaqmd.gov/pie/modelwood.htm); other cities and counties are
actively considering adopting it.  Apparently this ordinance bans masonry
heaters (large thermal mass, specially designed) as well as the standard brick

Santa Rosa has not proposed to ban all woodburning yet.  Their city newsletter
does accurately summarize ARB's first recommendation in our Woodburning Handbook
-- use a gas fireplace instead.

Thomas J. Phillips
CARB/RD, 1001 - I St., POB 2815, Sacramento, CA 95812
916.322.7145 PHONE / .4357 FAX
Indoor Air Quality Guidelines:  http://www.arb.ca.gov/research/indoor/indoor.htm

Research summaries:  http://www.arb.ca.gov/research/indoor/resnotes.htm
Customer feedback:  http://www.calepa.ca.gov/About/custsvc.htm
The energy challenge facing California is real. Every Californian
needs to take immediate action to reduce energy consumption. For
a list of simple ways you can reduce demand and cut your energy
cost, see our web site at http://www.arb.ca.gov.
For tips on home energy saving and improving IAQ, see

The Press Democrat: Print a Story

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SR may ban new wood-burning fireplaces

Law would also require wood stoves not EPA-approved to be removed when home is sold

November 29, 2001


Santa Rosa's City Council is moving to adopt a ban on the installation of traditional wood-burning fireplaces in homes throughout the city.

Council members Tuesday directed city staff to draft an ordinance to prohibit the installation of wood-burning hearth fireplaces that expel smoke and ash via chimneys in both new and existing homes.

Homes that already have wood-burning fireplaces would not be affected by the ban.

The proposed law would also require homeowners who currently have wood stoves that do not meet EPA guidelines to remove them when the home is sold or when remodeling work exceeding $2,500 comes within 12 inches of the wood stove.

The proposal should be ready for review by the City Council in February.

The ban, already adopted in Petaluma and under consideration by Windsor, is aimed at protecting the health of an estimated thousands of residents who are affected by smoke and ash generated by home fires.

"I have two kids with asthma," said Councilwoman Noreen Evans, who supported the proposal. "It's a serious problem."

The proposed ban would not have an impact on wood stoves approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency already in homes, nor would it ban the installation of new EPA-approved wood stoves.

City planner Joel Galbraith said the law also would not ban the installation of natural gas-fueled stoves. But Galbraith said it remains unclear whether the ban would allow installation of traditional hearth fireplaces that burn natural gas instead of wood.

"That will have to be clarified," he said.

The recommendations for such a ban are contained in a report submitted by a 10-member committee headed by Councilwoman Marsha Vas Dupre. Members included four citizens and representatives of environmental, home building, health, real estate and fireplace industry groups.

The group met 11 times since May after the council voted in April to take action to reduce the level of air pollution hovering over the city, particularly during winter.

Bay Area Air Quality Management District officials attribute about 30 percent to 40 percent of that pollution to wood-burning stoves and fireplaces.

The council's decision to move ahead with the law came over the objections of several real estate agents who asked the council to exclude the provision that inefficient wood stoves be ripped out at the time a home is sold.

Realtor Michael Fassio of Sebastopol suggested the council not include the regulation, saying it isn't an equitable way to handle the issue.

"It's a regional problem, not a local one. Air does move around," he said.

Santa Rosa is in the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, which leaves the issue up to local jurisdictions.

Arguments for a ban came from air quality specialists and people in the hearth industry, who encouraged the city to order homeowners to install new fireplaces or stoves when homes are sold or remodeled.

Santa Rosa had a pollution problem last spring, when the council first took up the issue, said Tommie Mayfield, an air quality specialist with the Bay Area air quality district.

"The problem is still there. It's worse now -- it's wintertime," Mayfield told the council. She recommended the council adopt all aspects of the proposal.

State air quality officials could help the city with a public education campaign about the dangers of air pollution from burning wood, she said.

John Crouch of the National Hearth Products Association said estimates show that forcing a homeowner to replace an old stove with a new one at home sale time would affect about one in every five home sales annually in Santa Rosa.

That wouldn't be much improvement in air quality, said Crouch, who recommended the council include all the options to make a difference.

The Northern Sonoma County Air Pollution Control District, which includes Healdsburg, Guerneville and Cloverdale, has prohibited the installation of wood-burning fireplaces in its district for years.

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